US ride hailing service, Uber, has officially ventured into the commercial road transport industry with the launch of Uber Freight yesterday.
The formal launch of the app, which promises to match trucking companies with loads to haul, marks the company’s long-anticipated move into the trucking industry.
Uber said in a blog post that the location-based app will relieve stress for drivers by confirming rates and loads “within seconds” and delivering payments within a few days – apparently even if it means Uber has to cover the cost of delays.
“Uber Freight is committed to paying within a few days, fee-free, for every single load,” the company said “ When things don’t go as planned or drivers have to wait longer than expected, we pay for that too.”
Uber added, “Truck drivers are the heart of the American economy [and] take on a great risk to make sure we get the products we need, from the produce in our local supermarket to the clothes at our favorite stores. But running a trucking business isn’t easy.
“We take the guesswork out of finding and booking freight, which is often the most stressful part of a driver’s day. What used to take several hours and multiple phone calls can now be achieved with the touch of a button.”
According to US publication Heavy Duty Trucking (HDT), the app is mainly targeting owner-operators and small fleets of 10 trucks or less.
With the app, they can find dry or refrigerated freight according to parameters like where and when they want to pick it up, where the load is bound, price offered, and other factors.
According to HDT, it will be possible to reach Uber Freight staff with real-world brokerage experience via the app, should any issues occur.
If a load doesn’t find a driver, Uber Freight reportedly also has a network of medium- to larger-size carriers on hold to get it delivered.
Eric Berdinis, Product Lead for Uber Freight, also pointed out that there are no near-term plans to mesh Uber Freight with self-driving trucks. “Right now the self driving trucks and Uber Freight are two independent bets on what the future of trucking might look like,” he told HDT.
“Certainly when Uber bought Otto, it whet its appetite for what it could do in the trucking space. Right now that’s two separate teams working on two separate paths… One day will they cross paths and create something together? Possibly, but it’s not something the team is focused on right now.”
Uber Freight is led by Lior Ron, the co-founder of Otto, which is currently at the centre of an intense lawsuit with Alphabet’s Waymo – formerly the Google self-driving car project.
Amazon is reportedly also working on an app to connect truck drivers with shippers.